Drilling DIY PCB

If you have an inkjet, just gest the photocopy as others stated.

And if you are adventourous, or don´t get the glossy paper, try the trsparency film.

Thank guys… I guess there are no “free lunch”… :~

Laser printer are not cheap you know… :~

Going to a photocopier … sound interesting, but the paper inside those puplic photocopier machine ( a quarter each print ) are not that easy to access or change the paper inside the tray for one grossy paper.

Anyway guys, I just bought 10 special PCB drill bits @ $0.75 ca and a foot switch for $10.00 ca at A1 Electronics. The foot switch has a 125 V AC @ 5 A switch inside, but the cord and the 1/4 phono male jack ← a big headphone jack… is not suitable to operated @ 125 V AC. So I will change the cord and remove the phono jack. I have a electical box, AC plug with a cable attach to it ← from an e-havest and electrical AC prong. When it is done, the foot switch will turn on/off my “dremel”. Than I can you my two hands for drilling the PCB ( one hand to hold the drill flex shaft and one hand to hold the board ).

I just finish drilling another PCB. It is a LCD shield. I use my modify foot switch, I have a better control of the situation ( hold the flex shaft & board being drill ), but I still broke another drill bit. :0

I was carefull to drill the board after I broke the bit. Those bits are fragile, they are made of ceramic. They don't like to be force ( side ways and push to much ). Man ... I doing my best here... Good thing I bought 10 of them.

I heard that the bits with the larger shank are quite breakable. When they flex they break, so drilling by hand is going to break a lot of bits.

I haven’t broken a single one with the setup I am using. They wear out before they break.


What is your setup, if I may ask ?

For general prototyping I use phonelic board. FR4 only gets used on stuff that has to tolerate alot of power and heat. Phonelic i can drill with HSS bits whereas FR4 requires carbide.

Interesting... I have to look it up.

Sorry, I was referring to the el cheapo drill from ebay. I linked to it and some bits (back on page 1 I think).


Oh... that setup...

I am planning to buy it from e-bay. 1. I have to register ... I think... 2. Transfer money to my paypal... 3. Buy the item.

Just finish drilling my ZIF Ardiuno Programer and Telephone Counter CPU/ATMega328P board. I broke one dril bit ( broke three time → a bit off, another bit off and the final bit off :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: And then … one idea occur to me… :open_mouth:

The table I use is not even, so I “angle” the board was elevated about 1/4 " high, so it created an empty space under the board, and I was using a new bit and start drilling… :grin: work great… not a dril bit broke… 8)

So I did the same with the ZIF board, I use a haft broke bit to do the resistors, capacitor, switch… non critical hole…ok so far… and I use a new one, use the “angle” technique to drill the socket, headers, ZIF holes… NO BRAKAGE … !!! :smiley:
Because it was jamming inside the wood underneat the board being drill.

It look like I need two solutions to my drilling problem…

  1. Foot switch / flex shaft.
  2. Angle the board to creatd a small empty space .

One more thing…Safety… please wear safety glasses and a mask when you drill / cut blank / etch PCB board.

Here a picture… Warning… Maybe scary… :smiley:


An inkjet printer WILL NOT WORK!!!

That suck !! I only have a ink jet. Can’t afford a laser printer…

It used to be color lasers were cost prohibitive. These days there are many economical laser printers which specifically exist to compete with inkjets. Better yet, their consumables are typically much cheaper than inkjets. In fact, before the price of gold exploded, many inkjet consumables were literally more expensive than gold by weight. In the long run, a laser printer can save lots, depending on the specifics of your current inkjet.

This is an example of an inexpensive laser printer (can be had for <$110 and frequently with free shipping - and if you shop you might be able to find it for sub-$100). I know two people who own one and they love it. In fact, I’m likely to get one in the near future. But don’t think that’s your only option. There is a surprising array available in the sub-$150 range and it opens up considerably once you reach the $200-dollar range. Also, if you do get that printer, understand the included starter toner pack doesn’t come with a lot of toner. Don’t forget you can save considerably on toner if you don’t mind the dirty hassle of refilling yourself.


Thank for the info. I have to think about it to justify a purchase like that. Heh ! I drive a school bus, and the company don't pay me much... I have to think about it. :roll_eyes:

Thank for your advise. :)

Well, at least you have a price point to compare it against the photo method.

Hope it works out either way.


My method right now is :

  1. Place the silkscreen copy & cut to the size of the board.
  2. Punch the hole where the holes will be.
  3. Dry transfer solders pads.
  4. Trace manualy with a cheap permanent ink pen.
  5. Wait for a hour, re-do the trace again and wait for 1 hr again.
  6. Check for trace, check for shorts, correct them.
  7. Etch the board into a small plastic container with the chemical and seal it.
  8. Place the seal container into a bigger container with warm water and seal it.
  9. wait for 1 to 1 1/2 hr.
  10. replace the water every 1/2 hour. Check the board carefully. Acid remember...
  11. If the board is done etching, remove the chemical properly.
  12. Wash the chemical residue with water - a lot !
  13. Remove the ink with a SOS pad.
  14. Board is now ready for drilling.

A laser printer will make the board more neater... to purchase a laser printer depend on my limited budget at this time.

For now... it better than nothing... and cheaper too...

Required materials:

GC Chemicals 10x12 Contact exposure frame. Positive type pre sensitized board. GC Positive type developer. HP Transparency plastic for inkjet or laser depending on your printer type.

Print PCB from PCB Editor 1x scale Place PCB sensitized side toward glass precut to 1/8 larger than finished board with Transparency ink side up between board and glass. Slide backboardand glass with PCB and film sandwiched inbetween into frame. Expose to direct sunlight, with frame supported for 90 degree light incidence(direct lighting as opposed to side lighting). Exposure time in sunlight 3 minutes, longer during winter months. My exposure time is around 4 minutes with a Mercury 26-1K exposure lamp. Develope and rinse board and allow to dry for 1 hr. Etch in dillute etchant 15 seconds, rinse and inpect for coating failures, finish etching in concentrate until all traces are clear. Wash dry and drill then strip photo resist with laquer thinner.


Thank for the photo method / procedures to develop PCB. If I am planning this method... I will need practice.

It is a technique you have to develop. Many things impact success. I prefer negatives as mask errors result in extra copper which can be dealt with, whereas positives result in missing copper. But sadly all but Datak have discontinued negative type chemistries. Negative also has the benefit of no alkalies, Xylol is the developing agent for negative type sensitizer.

Datak Page 270.pdf (3.76 MB)

Shortly before I started reading this thread, my brother had sent me links to these videos. I found them to be pretty interesting. Hopefully you guys will too.

One of the things I found most interesting, which I'd not seen before, was the use of a muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide solution. Keep in mind I've yet to etch my own PCBs so I'm probably easily impressed. Regardless, he goes into nice detail about using the laser printer method. If you're interested in the muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide solution and want to see who quickly it works, go directly to video 3.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

I'll also add, the quantity of chemicals seen (in their containers) in the video cost roughly $7.